History of the Printing Press

Albion Printing Press During the 17th and 18th centuries there was a new interest in learning. Printing began to become very important as a means of communicating new ideas and discoveries.

The growth of newspapers played an important part in the expansion of the printing industry. Printers had been using wooden printing presses for 350 years, ever since Gutenberg produced his first printed sheet. With the tremendous demand for newspapers and other printed material towards the end of the 18th century, it was no longer possible to go on using the wooden printing presses.

Stanhope Printing Press In 1803, Earl Stanhope introduced the first hand press with an iron frame. It was stronger and more efficient than a wooden press and rapidly replaced it. The Columbian and Albion were two other iron presses used in the early 19th century.

As new technical changes continued, the small craftsmen's workshops disappeared. They gave way to noisy factories housing bigger and faster machines, driven by steam engines.

Harrild Printing Press The 10-feeder press, so called because 10 men could feed paper into it at once, was installed by The Times newspaper in 1861 to meet still greater demands for newspapers. Ten rollers inked the type, which was on a cylinder in the middle of the machine. The press could print 1,000 sheets in an hour. By the end of the century even more efficient machinery could print 30,000 to 40,000 copies an hour.

Adana Printing Press Small printing presses - known as parlour presses - were introduced In Victorian times, when printing became a hobby.

The Old Printing Shop has a vast collection of early printing presses. The earliest printing press is the "Stanhope" which was the first iron press dated 1805. We also have Columbian Albions (standing and table top), Brittania and Atlas. Additionally we have foot treadles and an array of small hand platens. We are hoping these printing presses will be used by any person with an interest in printing, or graphics, throughout the world.

We would like these presses to be housed in a working museum and would welcome ideas and suggestions by interested parties

© The Old Printing Shop of London 2014